Who is Seo Chae-Hyun?
Seo Chae-Hyun is a competitive lead climber, boulderer and Olympian from South Korea. While still young, she has already accomplished a lot as a competitive climber. At just 16, during her debut season, she claimed the IFSC Lead Season title. Additionally, she qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and placed 8th overall. To top of her first 3 years of competitive climbing, she won the lead world championship in Moscow in 2021.
Chae-hyun or chaehyun (which is her first name) grew up in a climbing family and causing her to start climbing in 2008 at the young age of just 5 years old. Both parents are climbers and her father owns the climbing gym Seo Jong-kuk in Seoul, which is where Seo trained to become one of the best lead climbers in the world.
Aside from an impressive record at IFSC World Cups, Chaehyun also enjoys outdoor climbing on real rock as she currently has 99 ascents logged on thecrag.com! Later in this profile, we’ll take a look at her many ascents of rocks graded 5.13a and over.
Chaehyun is sponsored by The North Face, Black Diamond and La Sportiva. She is also part of the South Korean sports agency: AllThatSports.
Chaehyun is trained by her father, together they train 4 times a week for around 6 hours each time. In total, she trains 24 hours weekly.
Her training starts with weight training and finishes with 3 hours of climbing.
Chaehyun is sponsored by climbing shoe giant La Sportiva. Let’s look at the models she wears for lead and bouldering.
For lead climbing, Chaehyun wears women’s La Sportiva Solution Comps. These are the comp variant of the iconic solution, designed to be the ideal ‘solution’ for artificial rock.
These are medium-soft climbing shoes with a small midsole in the toe are for edging.
Also interesting: how many climbing shoes do you need?
For Bouldering, Chaehyun wears women’s La Sportiva Theory’s, the first shoe La Sportiva designed with bouldering in mind.
These are soft climbing shoes with no midsole.
Fun fact: just like her mentor Kim Ja-in, Chae-hyun walks around competitions in slides underneath her climbing shoes to avoid getting chalk or dirt on them. Swipe the instagram embed to witness this funny sight.
Seo Chae-Hyun Social Media
Chaehyun has a public account on Instagram with 45k+ followers where posts her achievements as well as life updates. Secondary, she has a YouTube channel where she uploads climbing training clips as well as outdoor ascents.
Seo Chaehyun also has a climbing profile on TheCrag.
Chaehyun Competition Placements
During her debut season at the IFSC World Cup in 2019, Seo Chae-Hyun (aged 16) won the overall Season Lead Climbing Title.
In 2021, Chaehyun Seo become the Lead World Champion at the IFSC Climbing World Championship in Moscow, Russia. To secure her victory, she topped EVERY route in the competition and finished higher than her competitors in the final.
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Briançon, France||2022||2|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Chamonix, France||2022||3|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Innsbruck, Austria||2022||2|
|IFSC Climbing World Championships||Lead||Moscow, Russia||2021||1|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Kranj, Slovenia||2021||2|
|Asian Championships||Lead||Bogar, Indonesia||2019||1|
|Asian Championships||Boulder||Bogar, Indonesia||2019||1|
|International Climbing Series||Combined||Guangzhou, China||2019||3|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Inzai, Japan||2019||3|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Briançon, France||2019||1|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Xiamen, China||2019||1|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Kranj, Slovenia||2019||1|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Briançon, France||2019||1|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Chamonix, France||2019||1|
|IFSC World Cup||Lead||Villars, Switzerland||2019||2|
|Asian Youth Championship||Lead||Chongqing, China||2018||1|
|Asian Youth Championship||Boulder||Chongqing, China||2018||2|
2020 Sport Climbing Olympics Tokyo
Seo qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and landed herself in the finals where she placed 8th.
This was the first installment of sport climbing at the Olympics which had a controversial format: a combination of speed climbing, bouldering, and lead climbing.
This proved difficult for Chae-Hyun who was the only finalist to have trouble breaking the 10-second barrier (which she did at the Olympics when she broke 9.85 seconds).
In the upcoming 2024 Olympics, speed climbing will be a category on its own leaving Bouldering and Lead climbing as a combined event. With this upcoming format, Seo Chae-Hyun will likely be one of the favorites to win a medal.
Chaehyun Outdoor Ascents
While Chae-Hyun is mostly known for lead climbing competitions on artificial rock, she does have quite a few outdoor ascents (99 in total) listed on thecrag.com.
Many of her ascents are from family trips to Rifle Colorado during the summers of 2017 and 2018 where she made a total of 25 ascents ranging from 5.11 – 5.14d. Other ascents are in Spanish, Greek as well as in South Korean crags.
Chaehyun doesn’t have many recent ascents as she is focusing primarily on training for competitions since she become eligible to compete in IFSC World Cups in 2019. However, Chaehyun does have outdoor aspirations as she told Olympic.com: “I want to travel around the world to climb rocks”. So who knows, Chaehyun might be an outdoor crusher to look out for in the future.
Here are some of her impressive early achievements.
Chae-Hyun onsighted 8a at 11 years old
At just 11 years od, Chaehyun made headlines by onsighting the 8a graded route Punto Caramello in Greece. Impressive!!
Chae-Hyun sent 9a at just 14 years old
Seo Chae-Hyun’s current highest outdoor grade achieved is 5.14d (9A), when at just 14 years old, she sent the fitting ‘Bad Girls Club’ while on a family trip to Rifle, Colorado.
Below is a list of Chae-Hyun’s most notable outdoor ascents ordered by grade difficulty.
|Bad Girls Club||Rifle, Colorado||July 31, 2018||5.14d|
|Power Power||Tugu-bawi, South Korea||April 2021||5.14c|
|Waka Flocka||Rifle, Colorado||August 5, 2018||5.14b|
|Once Upon a Time||Samcheon-bawi, South Korea||May 5, 2021||5.14a|
|Joker||Tugu-bawi, South Korea||March 31, 2021||5.14a|
|Dreams and Hopes||Maisan, South Korea||2021||5.14a|
|Simply Redlined||Rifle, Colorado||August 9, 2018||5.14a|
|Zulu||Rifle, Colorado||August 11, 2018||5.14a|
|Kalea Borroka||El Pati, Spain||February 6, 2019||8b+|
|Under Wall||Tugu-bawi, South Korea||April 2021||5.13c|
|Apocalypse flash||Rifle, Colorado||July 28, 2018||5.13c|
|Pati Pa Mi||El Pati, Spain||February 7, 2019||8b|
|Sprayathon||Rifle, Colorado||July 26, 2017||5.13c|
|Rendezspew||Rifle, Colorado||July 24, 2017||5.13b|
|Squeel to Sthil Onsight||Rifle, Colorado||July 25, 2017||5.13b|
|Deity Onsight||Rifle, Colorado||August 17, 2018||5.13b|
|Punto Caramelo Onsight||Grande Grotta, Greece||October 9, 2015||8a|
|Fun de Chichunne||Grande Grotta, Greece||September 30, 2015||8a|
|Prisa Mata||El Pati, Spain||January 31, 2019||7c+|
|Aquiles||Gran Boveda, Spain||July 10, 2014||7c+|
|Pump-o-Rama||Rifle, Colorado||July 24, 2017||5.13a|
|Spurtatron||Rifle, Colorado||July 29, 2017||5.13a|
|Best of the Best||Soskal-bawi, South Korea||May 9, 2015||5.13a|
|Sometimes it’s hard||Soskal-bawi, South Korea||March 14, 2015||5.13a|